Jack Atkinson - My Redan Story
Where did you grow up and what are some of your earliest footy memories and highlights?
I grew up in Mildura and went to school at the Mildura High School.
My parents were transferred to Ballarat in 1942 so I completed my Education at Ballarat High School in 1943. I joined the Commonwealth Bank in 1945 and retired as Manager in Devenport in Tasmania in 1983.
Tell us about how you came to play at Redan and what the club was like in those days?
My parents lived in Redan so I joined the Redan Under 18s in 1945 and won the Best and Fairest that year. A mate of mine Ken Ritchie was related to Alan Richards and I think he might have suggested joining Redan.
You played in the 1945 Under 18 Grand Final side which went down to Creswick Forestry. Who were some of the Redan players that went on to play in Redan Senior Premierships and can you recall any of Creswick Forestry side who went on to have success at senior level?
Eddie Skillbeck, Alan Richards, Keith Silvey, and Burt Leask all went on and played senior football in 1946. Lots of public school boys were at the Forestry School, I am not sure how many of them went on to play senior football.
Did you play in the curtain raiser of Creswick Forestry and Redan’s combine Under 18s against Carlton in the BFL Grand Final curtain raiser and what do you remember of that game?
I played in this game but can't remember much about it. I must have gone OK as a member of the Carlton club came to see me on the Sunday to see if I would move to Melbourne but I wasn't interested at the time.
In his recent Interview, Ted Neville commented that Stan Webb is the best player he has seen play with Redan. What can you tell us about him as a player and captain?
I always said that Stan Webb was the best footballer I played with which included Richmond players as well. Stan was a beautiful drop and stab kick with either foot and a fine mark. He would have been a star in Melbourne but didn't want to leave Ballarat. I think he was poultry farmer.
Steve Bayly was the Coach of the 1946 Premiership side and referred to as ‘Mr Redan’. What made him such a coach and can you give us some examples of his training methods, favourite sayings and game plan?
Steve Bayly had a good knowledge of the game and got his message through in a great way. He coached around 1945/46 and was instrumental in getting players such as Ernie Waller and the Jenkins brothers (Eddie and Boo) to make comebacks and those fellows made the difference in the side, I think midway through the season.
He was a very nice gentleman.
You mentioned you’d like to discuss some of the following players;
Alan Richards - He captained the Under 18 side. He played on but I think he missed out on the Senior Grand Final in 1946. He owned a horse that won the Caulfield Cup.
Eric Dalton - One of the toughest country footballers I've seen. His ability to play with injuries was incredible. He had a lot of trouble with legs from memory. A real good honest footballer, mainly ruck-rover.
The Waller Bros - Ernie and Clete were two good footballers. Ernie looked after me as a forward pocket when I played full forward. Clete went on an played for a few years and was a ruckman.
Joe Cassells - He was a nuggetty little fellow who was on the ball and loved to kick a goal.
Gordon Scott (President), Alby Lawless (Secretary) - Both very highly regarded officials.
How many of players had returned from the war and was the average age of the side around 24-25yo?
I was 17 as the war ended. There was a lot of them had come back from the war, I was the youngest in the side.
What do you remember of the 1946 Grand Final and the 21 point win over Maryborough?
I can remember that we hadn't scored a goal but were not too far behind. We got a rev at half time. I kicked two goals but can't remember them. Rupe Craigie was a great full back for Maryborough.
I would agree with those listed in the records as being the best players that day (Clete Waller, Tom Davies, Ern Waller, Eric Dalton, Ron Carton, Bob O’Brien, Eddie Skilbeck).
The third quarter was the best quarter I have seen Redan play.
What did the win mean for Redan and what do you remember of the celebrations?
I didn't go to the celebrations that night, I went to the pictures instead. The St George's hall photo was held later on. It was paid for by a publican named McAusland who was a Redan supporter. He owned a pub in Pleasant Street (possibly Bunch of Grapes).
We gathered Sunday morning at the City Oval and lost a couple of fellows that nobody had seen.
Following that season how many players moved on to play and coach elsewhere?
The Jenkins boys retired after 1946, maybe Ernie Waller too. I'm not sure of players going to coach elsewhere after '46. We lost a lot of players between flags and I left in 1949.
Take us through a typical training week in those days?
We trained at City Oval.
Circle work, sprints and laps. Tuesday and Thursday, one hour. We started training around March.
Who are the best five players you saw play for Redan?
Stan Webb - Natural talent
Bill Ebery - Hard working ruckman
Keith Rawle - Very clever, roved for Essendon
Tom Davies - Good footballer, full back
Eric Dalton - Good footballer
Who were some of your toughest BFL opponents and which opposition players in general impressed you most? Which club was the biggest rival?
Rupe Craigie from Maryborough was the best full back I played on.
Maryborough was the biggest rival.
Which was your best season with Redan, most goals in a game, most goals in a season and some other highlights?
My best season was 1949. I got transferred in the bank to Elizabeth Street Melbourne during the footy season.
We worked Saturday mornings in the bank. Redan organised someone to pick me up each week. I played Centre Half Back that year and it was my best year.
Not too many in a game and they didn't keep records for the season goal total. Not sure how many I would have kicked.
Tell us about how you came to play with Richmond?
I was going to play A grade amateurs for the bank. The amateurs board declared me a professional from my Redan earnings which were split among group. I bought a suit with my money.
The Amateurs board said stay out 12 months then it would be OK. I didn't want to though.
I played in practice games at Geelong in 1948 I think. Bob Davis and I went there too, maybe the same time as Bill Ebery. I didn't want to leave Ballarat though.
I practiced at Melbourne one night. One of the boys at the bank was connected with Richmond, I had letters from Richmond so went there. Not sure of when I received the letters, I think it was when they heard I was coming to Melbourne.
The Richmond list was 30 players. I went in March and was part of the 'March Champions' who came from all over Victoria. There were only two of the 50 March Champions who made it, myself and Ray Ednie from Berrigan NSW (played 23 games).
In 1950 you signed with Richmond who were coached by Jack Dyer. What do you remember of his coaching and were you on the receiving end of one of his sprays?
He was very helpful and I didn't receive a spray. I was a stone too light, so he sent off to a gym and it didn't put on weight but became fitter. He was a motivator and he had the team behind him.
In your three VFL matches you played at Full Forward against three Full Backs who played for Victoria, Jock McCorkell of North Melbourne, Shane McGrath of Melbourne and Vic Chanter of Fitzroy. What do you recall of your three matches and opponents?
Jock McCorkell - we won that day at Punt Road to a side who lost to Essendon in the Grand Final that year. He played very close, he gave Coleman trouble. He was same high as me but heavier. A professional foot runner.
Richmond 10.10 (70) d North Melbourne 8.9 (57) Punt Road Oval, 23,000, 8 July 1950
Shane McGrath - kicked a couple of goals against him. We lost that day at the MCG. Champion full back, very highly regarded.
Melbourne 13.16 (94) d Richmond 9.10 (64) MCG, 38,000, 15 July 1950
Vic Chanter - I broke my foot during this game, not sure how. I played in bad conditions in Ballarat, but Brunswick Oval was shocking conditions. He was very rugged and probably the biggest of the three. It was very low scoring. We stood in jumpers under showers covered in mud.
Fitzroy 6.10 (46) d Richmond 5.6 (36) Brunswick Street Oval, 14,000, 22 July 1950
The three best full backs in the league at that time.
1948 Brownlow Medallist Bill Morris won the Best and Fairest in 1950, tell us about him as a player and some of the other champions in that side?
I think he won the Best and Fairest at Richmond. He was one of the best ruckmen in the league. Only 6ft 1 but a natural footballer and very fair. Under siege from other players but ignored them.
The great John Coleman won the league goal kicking that year with 120. Did you ever see him play live and describe what made him such a great Full Forward?
After I finished football I think I did. He was bit of freak. He had Hutchinson and McEwin up the field giving great delivery. He was quick and led and was a good kick.
Your injury against Fitzroy ended your VFL career but you did play again for Redan in 1951. Can you tell us how this came about and your part in 1952 Premiership player Bob Splatt’s recruitment to Redan?
I knew Keith Rawle, I gave up football in 1950 and was getting married end of '51. My parents were still in Ballarat and went there on the weekends.
Keith Rawle approached me to play. I was still working Saturday mornings in Malvern. Redan sent car again but I broke ribs against Point, the end of my football career. Not many games that year.
Bob Splatt was 6ft 2 or 3 and worked at Malvern, (later a Policeman in Ballarat). Keith said we need a ruckman to stir things along and I mentioned Bob who was playing in Caulfield. He got a clearance from Caulfield and came along in the car each Saturday together.
Did you see the 1952 side in action and what impressed you most about them?
Don't think I saw the side. Always looked at the scores in the paper. I didn't see Bomber Wells play but heard about the goals he was kicked.
What have you made of the many highs and lows of the Redan FNC over the past half century?
Very pleased, I wasn't aware of how bad things were in the 1990s.
I watched one of the premierships under John Northey and went to the celebrations up at North showgrounds. This was the last game I saw Redan play.
Where are you based these days and did you have any involvement in Football after your playing days?
Neerim South near Warragul. No other involvement. I keep track of scores in the paper.
I am not a fan of the congestion in today's football. We didn't tackle like they do these days, we used hip and shoulders.
What advice would you have for the boys and girls starting their football and netball careers with Redan?
I am glad that I have three grandsons and son who played football in Melbourne. The best aspect is the team aspect, and you have your mates. Different from sports like golf and tennis.
We came from different trades, office workers and doctors but were all mates.
I should have stayed another year in juniors. I am happy the for the Premiership in 1946 but might have benefited with another year of Juniors. (Isaac Smith has previously made similar remarks about his later arrival to the AFL).
When I was playing Full Forward for Redan, we got beaten a lot after 1946 but that was football.
With Stan Jenkins left and Joe Cassells front.
1946 Grand Final side- back row fourth from left. Third from left was Doug Morris who was CHF in the 1946 side, a really good player who had a terrible back and had to retire from footy early.
The Courier on the Monday after the 1946 Grand Final
Table right of shot, cente row, 6th from front. Held not on the night of the Grand Final, but some days later.
1951 - far right back row
Jack's interview 2016
1945 Under 18 Runners Up
Under 18 or Reserves side in 1946